Utah linebacker Chase Hansen, Week 11 Lott IMPACT Player of the Week, comes from a family of great football players. His uncle Randy also played for the Utes, while his father Brian and uncle Bruce both played at BYU.
“Growing up my Dad was my coach,” explained Hansen. “He was always pretty tough on me and made sure that I was a tough kid. It came pretty natural, though. I loved to hit and I loved the physicality of the game. I learned young that if I wanted to be a great football player I had to do a lot of things different. I had to be able to run to the ball, make plays.”
There’s been no shortage of playmaking for Hansen this season. He’s translated his love for hits into 19 tackles for loss, tied for second in the nation. He also leads his team in tackles and has the second-most sacks, not to mention his two interceptions – one a game-sealing pick-six – and one fumble recovery.
Along with a love for the game, a desire for greatness emerged in Hansen’s earliest years in the sport. “[It’s] something I learned when I was younger, and I decided as I grew up that it’s something I really wanted.”
There are plenty of young athletes in the sport wanting to be great. Few, however, have the clear intention Hansen has regarding the pursuit.
In his senior year of high school, he recognized that his high performance on the field went hand-in-hand with his ability to garner an audience off the field.
“I learned really quickly that people only listen if you’re one of the great ones, if you’re one of the top dogs,” he reflected. “I think that fueled my fire even more so to be a great player: to be able to have that pedestal, to be able to have a voice. That was something I really wanted and I realized football was a great opportunity to do that with.”
It wasn’t just the respect of his teammates or the command of the locker room that Hansen longed for. He wanted to put the power of the limelight to work for the benefit of others. “I could have an impact beyond football,” he recognized. “I could make a difference outside of the sport. Football was my way of doing that.”
It wasn’t long after graduating from high school that he went to work doing just that. After redshirting his freshman year at Utah, Hansen embarked on a two-year mission trip to Australia. He returned to the States to resume his football career with clarity and life skills that have added a new dimension to him as a person and a player.
“I learned a lot on my mission about pushing through tough times and doing things because I believe that they’re right and I believe that they’re true and not because of popular opinion,” he said.
“It’s easy to stay strong in what I believe regardless of what other people think. I’m able to transfer that over [to football] and it’s helped me a lot.”
With a bright future in the sport still ahead of him, Hansen acknowledged the impact of others on his journey to this point. “As I was growing up I had a lot of people in my life that taught me how to play the game right. Hopefully I’m doing that now.”
Hansen and the Utes will continue trying to blaze a path to the conference championship this Saturday against Pac-12 South rival Colorado at 10:30 am PST.